Is "GM Agency" A Thing?

Not open for further replies.


I think "GM Agency" is the GM choosing to break rules / change results. And is 75% a Bad Thing (tm). [I know some people disagree, I've seen the "I decide when it is most dramatic for the monster to die" reddit threads...]

Example 1:
The party faces a Red Dragon. They prepare ahead of time, drinking potions of fire resistance. The red dragon breathes on them, and then all take full damage because the GM decided (on the spot) "it's infernal fire, and bypasses resistance." GM Agency. Probably a Bad Thing, unless he pulls a fantastic explanation out of his... um, out of thin air, and makes an amazing new storyline to follow because of it. (Still Bad, but mitigated.)

Example 2:
I built a custom monster for the party to face, based on the campaign Story, the Three-Horned Beast. It has various thematic resistances based on what it is, where it's been trapped, and the mutations/body-horror experiments performed on it. In play, I discovered that it was WAY TOO HARD -- I wanted it to be a legendary boss monster (and there was ample opportunities to run and come back later or never!), but damn, I overestimated. So I nerfed the Regeneration ability hard, and had the Beast's priorities change when it reached a certain already predefined stage (1/3 its health). GM Agency.

Example 3:
The Goblin Boss is supposed to escape the encounter while his minion goblins delay the party, so the BBEG in the next encounter has time to set up the set-piece event. The PCs pull some craziness, and the GM decides to let the craziness happen, knowing the Goblin Boss can handle anything, even a critical hit. And the critical hit happens, and then PCs' abilities allow them to finish off the Boss before it can run... The GM decides "the noise is enough to warn the BBEG", and still has the set-piece happen anyway, despite there being no scripted warning. GM Agency.

log in or register to remove this ad

I think "GM Agency" is the GM choosing to break rules / change results.
But is this even a thing?

Is there a game out there that has rules like "once the DM has made a person, place or thing it shall never be changed ever" ? Or even more "the DM shall never make up anything the players do not like"?

And the DM does not even need to "change" things....just "decide what happens". Like the characters attack an evil wizard....but fall for the trap and fail their saves. Leaving the characters trapped in magical poisonous mud and covered in magic webs. Well, the evil wizard npc can end it right there...a single attack and TPK dead characters. But the DM does not want to do that so "suddenly" has the wizard cast Sprinkle of Cold Snowflakes for 1d2 damage.

Bloodtide, as long as you're only going to pay attention to what games formally say rather than what the game contract at many tables informally expect, you're gonna just keep talking past a lot of people. What's written in a book is far from the only issue.
What? The poser was talking about rules. The rules written in the book.

You can't just "say" at a hostile player...say anything you say that a DM might do is wrong on a whim. That is just pure chaos.

You can't hold an informal contract over someones head and expect to get anywhere.

...and yet even you do every day
Odd....wonder how I do that? Seems like I don't.

People do so all the time. The fact you don't get that is part of the problem with this conversation. Until you do, it'll just keep going around and around.
Well, sure, it's the same thing you see immature little kids do: the secret club sillyness. The kids have a little secret club and just laugh at people that don't know "their secrets". It's loads of fun for little kids to do.

I guess some players might come to my game with a head full of "secrets". But I don't care....I will do whatever ever I want. They might say.."Oh no DM you broken secret #17 that you don't know...yuck yuck yuck yuck". And my response might be "get lost and never come to my house again." win for everyone?

Thomas Shey

Well, sure, it's the same thing you see immature little kids do: the secret club sillyness.

No, really its not, and the fact you can interact with society at all and not recognize that there are social contracts in everything (and apparently consider them big secrets) means, as I said, you're not going to have a useful conversation with other people on topics related to it.

These aren't massive secrets to other people, including many in this thread. Perhaps you should ask why they are to you.

Thomas Shey

Informal social contracts aren’t secret.

Yeah, they may not always be as clear initially, but its not hard to work them out, and in most cases, specific elements can just be asked about ("Yeah, we don't think its cool to do that in this group".) It can get complicated when people come in from different groups that have different expectations, but to be blunt about the matter at hand "We expect the GM can do whatever he wants whenever he wants" is unlikely to be a common one with most groups. As I've seen it put by any number of people, "We're here to play Game X, not whatever game the GM has in his head."

Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement